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Dating back to the Gallo-Roman era, this is the most complete medieval fortified town in Europe. With its 52 watchtowers, portcullis and extraordinary repertoire of defences, it resisted the many armies that tried to storm this Camelot setting. Carcassonne is divided into two sections, the Ville Basse and the medieval walled community known as the Cite. The Ville Basse contains the business sector and the Cathedral of St Michael and the Church of St Vincent (both 13th century). Set on top of a hill on the left bank of the Aude, the Cite includes ancient ramparts and towers, some parts dating from the 5th century during the time of the Visigoths, and others from the 11th to the 13th century. In addition, a 12th-century castle and the part Romanesque and part Gothic Church of St Nazaire (11th to 14th century) are located in the Cite.
The Cite was the site of a Roman town, which fell to the Visigoths in the 5th century. In the 8th century it came under Frankish rule. During the 13th-century crusade against the Albigenses, Carcassonne was captured and its inhabitants massacred by the Anglo-Normans under Simon de Montfort, and became a possession of the French crown in 1247. It was at this time that the French king Louis IX founded the new town across the Aude. Restoration of the Cite was begun in the 19th century by the architect Viollet-le-Duc.
The following 3 cruises call at Carcassone.
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